tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC January 17, 2016 5:30pm-6:00pm CST
suspected in more than 100 deaths, now possibly facing more issues. our nbc news investigation into the new complaints. and recess time. we'll go to a school where the kids are getting a lot more breaks during the day, and the results may surprise you. "nightly news" begins now. >> announcer: this is nbc "nightly news" with kate snow. report tonight from charleston, south carolina. from the gilyard center where they're putting the final touches on the big stage behind me for the big night in politics. the final democratic debate before the voting starts in iowa he just two weeks from tomorrow. our new nbc news "wall street journal" poll sets the stage. hillary clinton with a comfortable lead nation wide. 59% of democratic primary voters pick hillary clinton, bernie sanders at 34%, and martin
but in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups with donald trump bernie sanders does better than hillary clinton. and with polls in iowa and new hampshire tightening over the past week there's a lot at stake here tonight. all while donald trump and ted cruz continue to battle it out on the trail. we have all of it covered. let's start out tonight with more on what to expect here. kristen welker is here with us in charleston. kristen. >> reporter: kate, good evening. you can feel the anticipation building. officials with the clinton and sanders campaign telling me their candidates have been prepping a little bit today and relaxing because with 15 days until iowa there is no room for error. it's fight night in south carolina. >> we have differences. >> i see that we have the momentum. >> reporter: with the democrats in a virtual dead heat in the early voting states, tonight's debate is pivotal. >> i always thought this was going to be close. i've worked as hard as i can to build an organization in iowa. >> they're losing ground. we started this campaign off at 3% in the polls, and now we are closing in in
the big issues, health care and guns. with the debate just steps away from the church where a gunman killed nine people in june. 24 hours ago senator bernie sanders seemingly reversed course on a gun law, announcing he supports a bill he once opposed, stopping legal protections for gun makers. >> there were things in it that i did not like, and i was willing to rethink. we have rethought it. >> reporter: that reversal comes after continuous attacks from hillary clinton painting sanders as soft on guns. >> i am pleased that senator sanders has flip-flopped on legal immunity for gun makers and sellers. >> reporter: and the "new york times" reporting clinton's inner circle including former president bill clinton thinks her campaign made serious miscalculations by not attacking sanders sooner. today a clinton aide disputed that. still tonight is clinton's last big chance before iowa. >> secretary clinton has to show that she is in command of this race. senator sanders has to prove that he is electable. >> reporter: high stakes with voters
say. kristen welker, nbc news, charleston. i'm hallie jackson in new hampshire. against ted cruz donald trump's done playing nice. >> he's a nasty guy. nobody likes him. nobody in congress likes him. nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him. >> reporter: a new attack not on policy but personality. new york papers furious cruz hit trump's new york values. >> our friends in the media, seems like they lit their hair on fire. they were very confused. what are these new york values of which you speak? i would say in the rest of america people know exactly what that means. >> reporter: cruz arguing he's just using trump's own words from more than 15 years ago discussing aborgs and gay marriage. >> i lived in new york city and manhattan all my life. okay? so my views are a little bit different than if i lived in iowa perhaps. >> reporter: trump now fighting back against rivals who say he's too liberal. >> he's running for the conservative party's nomination. he should be a conservative. and he hasn't shown it. >> i'm conservative,
different elements of what i believe in, that's what people really understand. i'm going to solve our trade problem. i'm going to solve our military problem. i'm going to get rid of isis. >> reporter: the front-runners fighting for first in iowa. but as trump targets cruz, trying to pull away, he could risk alienating some in the grassroots. as he found out in south carolina. the reception from tea partiers there. nasty. >> say whatever you want. he didn't report bank loans. [ booing ] that's okay. >> reporter: both trump and cruz will be on the campaign trail here in new hampshire tomorrow. a state where trump dominates by double digits and where cruz hopes to surprise with a second-place finish or even better if his strategy to win over libertarians and the relatively smaller slice of evangelicals here works. kate? >> hallie jackson up in new hampshire. kristen welker right here in charleston. thanks to you both. you can watch tonight's debate here on nbc. lester holt moderates along with andrea mitchell. that's at 9:00 eastern time, 6:00 pacific.
story we've been following this weekend, five americans who'd been held in iran released as part of a prisoner swap. as a nuclear agreement with iran took effect and some western sanctions were lifted. tonight most of those newly freed americans are in germany, and we get the latest from nbc's keir simmons. >> reporter: freedom for five americans imprisoned in iran. three of them arriving at this swiss airport before being transferred to a u.s. base. the climax of a historic weekend. in texas a group of iranians walked free. a cold war style prisoner exchange just a day after a nuclear deal. >> today we're united in welcoming home sons and hisusbands and brothers who in lonely prison cells have endured an absolute nightmare. >> reporter: one of the five finally free is "washington post" reporter jason rezaian. brett mcguirk, the u.s. official who led the prisoner exchange with iran, tweeting "thrilled to see jason rezaian land safely."
him. >> we have been waiting for this day for such a long period of time. >> reporter: saeed abedini, a christian pastor from boise, idaho, had been jailed for three years. >> i woke up my kids around 7:30 and told them that daddy's coming home and he's out of the prison and they were so shocked but they were jumping up and down. >> reporter: sarah hekmati, the sister of former marine amir hekmati, is excited to be reunited with her brother. >> we have been on pins and needles, dying to see him. we haven't seen him in 4 1/2 years. >> reporter: there's excitement too in the iranian capital. their president declaring the deal with the u.s. has opened new windows. but not everyone is celebrating. iran will gain billions of dollars' worth of assets. israel's prime minister warning iran still wants nuclear weapons. while american bob levinson disappeared in iran in 2007. iran says they don't know where he is and have even made offers
tonight he's been left behind. "we are devastated." tonight the freed americans are inside this u.s. base in germany. we're told the plan was to take them to the hospital for medical and psychological evaluation before they can finally head back to the united states and their families. kate? >> keir simmons, thank you. an unusual set of january tornadoes ripped through neighborhoods in central florida overnight killing two people and injuring several others. sarah dallup is in that part of florida where residents have begun the process of rebuilding their lives tonight. >> reporter: they struck hard and they struck fast, in the middle of the night. at least two tornadoes and storms with winds up to 132 miles per hour slamming into neighborhoods on florida's west coast. >> everything it touched you'd see just like power lines exploding and debris flying through the air. it was scary -- one of the scariest things i ever witnessed. >> reporter: a family
in mourning tonight. two people killed. their son and four grandchildren hurt and in the hospital. the first tornado-related fatalities in the state since 2012. the destruction everywhere. roofs blown off entire buildings. downed power lines leaving thousands in the dark. this morning people were out trying to salvage whatever was left of their home and their lives. >> it was shocking. it was shocking. that's all i can say. >> reporter: in sarasota first responders rescued a woman from the wreckage of the collapsed home. >> she was coming up through the hallway. she said when all of a sudden the house just kind of exploded and that's when she was trapped. >> reporter: and while this severe weather has moved on, meet meteorologists warn this o'could be the beginning of a dangerous 2016. >> in a year where you have el nino, a whole weather pattern, systems like these are probably going to be continuing. in the pattern that we're in for this winter we are not out of the woods.
florida's governor toured the damage this afternoon, praising first responders and pledging support. initial estimates put those damages, kate, at $12 million. back to you. you. when "nightly news" sunday, an nbc news investigation into claims of new problems in cars already ini'm billy,and i quit smoking with chantix. i had a lot of doubts going in. i was a smoker. hands down, it was... that's who i was. after one week of chantix, i knew i could quit. along with support, chantix (varenicline) is proven to help people quit smoking. chantix reduced my urge to smoke. some people had changes in behavior, thinking or mood, hostility, agitation, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts or actions while taking or after stopping chantix. some had seizures while taking chantix. if you have any of these, stop chantix and call your doctor right away. tell your doctor about any history of mental health problems, whichcould get worse or of seizures. don't take chantix if you've had a serious allergic or skin reaction to it. if you have these, stop chantix and call your doctor right away as some can be life-threatening.
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with gm cars that were part of a massive recall to fix a problem with ignition switches that could cause them to stall and potentially crash? there are more complaints now about stalling in gm vehicles already repaired as part of that recall. gm says the recalled part is not to blame. here's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: sandra morty was driving her two grandchildren to school in upstate new york in 2014 when she says her chevy cobalt locked up at this intersection. >> at a three-way stop my car just stalled out right in the middle of the intersection. it was very terrifying to think that i could have, you know, injured my grandchildren. >> reporter: sandra's car was one of the 2.6 million vehicles that gm had recalled earlier that year to repair a safety defect in their ignition switches that caused some vehicles to stop running and stall. the claims program gm established has reported 124 deaths potentially related to that defect.
raymond had the ignition switch on their 2006 cobalt that recall. the stalling incident at the intersection happened after the repair. >> when it got fixed, they said that this is what's causing it. you won't have any >> reporter: but after she reported stalling problems following the repair, she says gm did not inspect the car. gm says it did offer to pay for a diagnostic service. but sandra claims she declined the service because gm did not offer to pay. in response to nbc news's questions, gm has acknowledged that some of its customers have been reporting stalling problems in their recalled cars after getting the ignition switch repaired. gm says it's very concerned about these reports. it told nbc news its engineers have thoroughly inspected about 50 other such vehicles but have found no connection between ignition switch repairs and stalling incidents. sandra lordy's cobalt model is on a consumer safety watch list that gathers raw government data about vehicle incidents nationwide
trends in death and injury claims. for the most recent year of data gm vehicles are well represented on that list. in the aftermath of the ignition switch recall, which likely increased the reporting of such claims. all but one were models that had been part of that recall. most on the list for electrical problems. and consumer complaints registered with the industry's regulator in accounts similar to sandra lordy's. one reported i just received my car back after it was fixed and the same problems are occurring still. i was going 60 miles per hour when my car completely lost power. another, "the vehicle stalled intermittently on several occasions. but after undergoing the ignition recall repair the failure soon recurred." shawn cane, who founded the group that created the list, says all this raises questions. >> is the recall adequate? did the switch really fix the problem? are there other electrical issues that need to be addressed in these vehicles? >> that's a trend that needs to be further investigated. >> reporter: working
lance cooper. he represented the parents of brook melton, who died when the ignition switch in her cobalt failed in 2010. their lawsuit helped prove gm knew of the defect for years yet failed to act. the meltons are now using the settlement money to fund the watch list. >> what we really hope is for other families to be able to use this information and prevent accidents. we think it can save lives. >> we're hopeful that this data can be used to get to the bottom of what's going on with these cars. >> reporter: gm points out that the government views the data analyzed for the watch list as unverified allegations. but gm told nbc news it has found other electrical and fuel issues in some of the 50 vehicles it inspected and believes vehicle age and mileage may be factors. the lordy's vehicle had about 100,000 miles on it. it shares its findings with the national highway traffic safety administration, or nhtsa. both gm and nhtsa told nbc news they found no pattern. in a statement they
defect mentality when it comes to safety and the changes we have made since the ignition switch recall in 2014 are working. it's not yet clear what exactly is causing the new complaints of stalling or whether the cobalt poses a larger risk. but sandra lordy wants to know. >> i would like them to be accountable for their vehicles. >> reporter: even though she's gotten rid of her cobalt and isisow driving a different car to take her grandkids to school. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, washington. and gm says it wants to hear from customers about any safety concerns. we're back in a moment with an idea that when my doctor told me i have age-related macular degeneration, amd we came up with a plan to help reduce my risk of progression. and everywhere i look... i'm reminded to stick to my plan. including preservision areds 2. my doctor said preservision areds 2 has the exact nutrient formula that the national eye institute recommends to help reduce the risk of progression of moderate to advanced amd...
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as parents and their children know, the pressure on students, even in elementary school, has ramped up in recent years. while some schools are packing the day with more classes, a handful are bucking that trend, trying to improve performance by adding more free time. here's nbc's janet shamlian. >> reporter: this is recess at brown elementary school. this is the second recess recess. after lunch a third.
home another trip outside. the fourth 15-minute recess of the day. >> who can read to me their central idea from yesterday? >> reporter: the frequent breaks are the daily routine for kindergarten and first-graders at several north texas schools. >> so with the recesses, you know, they have that chance to go get the wiggles out. like we say. and they come back, and they're ready to learn. >> reporter: it's part of a three-year trial by texas christian university and based on finland's system, where students get an average of 75 minutes of daily recess, compared to 27 minutes here. typical recess, it's a free-for-all. but experts say there is so much value in this unstructured time. >> there is between one and two hours a day of what we call distraction in the classroom that with this recess takes away from the distraction. therefore, they're on point the whole time they're in the classroom now. >> reporter: the kids of course love it. >> the best part is when i go up the slide
all day. >> reporter: but educators believe this is more than a study break. >> the benefits that we're seeing quickly are just the ability for the kids to get along, to work together, to solve problems. whether it's trying to climb up a tree or trying to move something from one side of the fence to the other side. >> reporter: it is a trade-off. 30 fewer minutes of the fundamentals, math, science, and writing. >> did you have any concerns that she'd be getting less instructional time? >> yes. at first i did. but she seems like shs advand smuch further thisear tn she di lastyear. >>eporter: researcher hope helping kids sta focud when in class will mean more learning withecess on the se. janet shaian, nbc news, irving, texas. >> makes a lot of sense. a prosecutor calls it the most egregious case of fraud in u.s. history. tonight on "dateline" the story of fareed fatah who was
behind bars for intentionally poise ong hundreds poiseonning hundreds of people with chemotherapy drugs so he can bilk med sxair insurance companies. fatta carried out the scheme for years and it took one patient's broken leg to help unravel it. lester holt has that story. >> reporter: 54-year-old monica flag of michigan was devastated three years ago when she was diagnosed with blood cancer. >> he said you need to start this drug immediately. >> or? >> or you will die. >> he said you would die. >> absolutely. >> reporter: but she assumed she would get the best possible possible care. after all, her doctor, fareed fatah, was one of the most highly regarded and successful oncologists in michigan. >> you were told this was the best. >> absolutely. and i talked to several people and people said he's the best cancer doctor out there, he's aggressive but she's very good. >> reporter: then on the day she began chemotherapy a freak accident. monica tripped, broke her leg, and ended up
and there she met dr. so mongole, a young oncologist. >> just by looking at chart i could not believe what i was seeing. >> did he say the words, "monica, you don't have cancer"? >> yes. he told me you do not have cancer. >> reporter: monica's case ended up unraveling a vast scheme. fareed fatah was convicted of defrauding medicare and insurance companies to the tune of millions of dollars. it turns out his victims numbered at least 553 people. many are still dealing with the lasting effects of unnecessary chemotherapy. >> i had to have a liver transplant. >> as a result of the chemo. >> as a result of the chemo. and now i'm taking an enormous amount of pills to stay alive. >> i spent close to two weeks in icu in isolation, and it was all to get over chemo. >> tracy your husband david's quality of life was robbed. >> yes. he just could not heal. he was full of infection. >> his immune system was breaking down. >> his immune system was gone.
both of his legs. >> reporter: some patients who were overtreated died while under fata's care. farid fata pocketed at least $17.6 million in fraudulent profits from medicare and insurance companies. >> and it's tonight on a special edition of "dateline," you'll hear the inside story of how farid fata's scheme was exposed. they've opened the doors here. started to come in now. and up next we'll check in with chuck todd for a preview of tonight's big democrat this just got interesting.so why pause to take a pill? and why stop tofind a bathroom? with cialis fordaily use, you don't have toplan around either. it's the only dailytablet approved to treat erectile dysfunction so you can be ready anytimethe moment is right.
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we're back from charleston, south carolina. as we look forward to tonight's democratic debate here on nbc, we want to touch base with our political director and moderator of "meet the press," chuck todd, who's here as well. chuck. let's talk about the pressure on these two candidates as the race tightens in those key early states. does that bring out the best or the worst in hillary clinton? >> in hullry clinton it usually brings out her best. when her back's against the wall, the last time in this campaign it felt like she had a lot of pressure on her was in that ten-day period when joe biden was thinking about jumping in, the benghazi hearing, everything was happening at that moment. and boy, she knocked it out of the park. in some ways that's usually when she performs best. but the burden is on her. it is really tough. she's trying to essentially run for the president's third term. passionately argue for status quo or continuity. bernie sanders is running on we need
it's easier to be passionate. so he's got the passion behind him, and that's what's fueling him in iowa right now. she's got to figure out how to get some passion back. >> sometimes hard to remember there are three candidates still in the democratic race and there will be three on stage tonight. martin o'malley. key night for him? does he need a standout performance? >> obviously. the best he can hope for is to play the
maybe there's an there's a time when you have shed every tear you can shed and go home at night completely exhausted, physically, emotionally. we hit that point. >> it's going to change everything about our life. everything. >> they're young parents, fighting an enemy within. >> your emotions are on a roller coaster.